Campus News

John Y. Walz Named Dean of Engineering


LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 13, 2012) — John Y. Walz, professor and department head of chemical engineering at Virginia Polytechnic and State University, has been named the 10th dean of the University of Kentucky College of Engineering, pending approval by the UK Board of Trustees.  He is scheduled to begin Sept. 1, 2012.

In an email to the College of Engineering faculty and staff today, Tim Tracy, UK interim provost, said "Dr. Walz brings a wealth of experience as a teacher, researcher and administrator, and I believe will be a tremendous asset to both the college and UK.  I am confident he will work hand in hand with you to further elevate the College of Engineering, serving UK, the Commonwealth and the nation."

Walz earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Tulane University before spending six years as a process support engineer for Shell Oil Company. In 1988, he left Shell to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. He received his Ph.D. in 1992 and returned to Tulane as an assistant professor. In 1997, Walz joined Yale University’s faculty as an associate professor of chemical engineering, becoming the department’s chairman in 2002. He remained at Yale until 2005 when he assumed his current position of professor and head of the department of chemical engineering at Virginia Tech.

Throughout his career, Walz has received honors and awards from the universities where he has taught as well as the National Science Foundation, who issued him a Research Initiation Award in 1993 and a Faculty Early Career Development Award in 1997. In 2010, Virginia Tech recognized its chemical engineering department’s achievements with an Exemplary Department Award. Walz is currently Past-Chair of the American Chemical Society Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry in 2011.

"I am extremely excited about joining the College of Engineering at the University of Kentucky," said Walz. "I came away from my interview extremely impressed by the talents and dedication of the faculty, staff and students in the college, and I am honored to be given the opportunity to continue the tremendous efforts and accomplishments of Dean Tom          Lester."

Walz has been the primary investigator or co-primary investigator on 26 grant awards, including over $3.3 million in awards since 2002. He has directed 14 graduate theses and has over 60 published articles and papers.

Walz will be replacing Thomas W. Lester, who is stepping down from the position he has held since 1990. The longest-tenured dean in the College of Engineering’s history, Lester will remain a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering upon completion of his responsibilities as dean.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Jenny Wells, (859) 257-5343 or